Mythic Sunship – Wildfire Review

I am probably not the reviewer that Mythos Sun Wank (as my phone insisted on spelling the band name, while I was taking notes on this album) deserve. I am definitely not the reviewer that they need. But we’re stuck with each other and I am trying to make the best of it by using this as an excuse to re-explore some of John Coltrane’s enormous catalogue. Why? Well, I assume, given the heavily jazz-influenced psychedelic free-form rock on show from Mythic Sunship, that they borrow part of their moniker from Coltrane’s 1971 Sun Ship. For me, there’s a fine line in avant-garde music—be that jazz, psychedelic rock or even the most progressive forms of black and death metal (I’m looking you at Ad Nauseam and you Imperial Triumphant, don’t think I don’t see you over there!)—between writing something progressive, challenging and interesting, and simply delivering what sounds like a noisy,1 unstructured jam session committed to record. Which side of the line does Wildfire fall? Or does it just smolder on the fence?

Well, two things worried me before I even pressed play on Wildfire. First, this is the fifth full-length from this Danish quintet in as many years and, secondly, the references in the promo blurb to “raw kinetic outbursts” and the “erratic, visceral, untamable musical organism that Mythic Sunship becomes once unleashed in improvisatory interplay.” Improvisatory interplay? Hmm. That sounds worryingly like an unstructured jam session to me. And so it would prove. Wildfire’s 45 minutes amble and meander along, wending their way through stops including free-form jazz, blues and psychedelic rock, in no particular order or structure. A largely upbeat, raucous affair, Mythic Sunship kick things off in springy, blues mode on “Maelstrom” with wailing sax and noodling guitars bounding all over the place in skittering fashion, setting the mold for the rest of the record. That opener is probably the most likeable thing on Wildfire, as the Danes stick to that free-form, entirely instrumental pattern for the rest of Wildfire.

Ranging between searingly cheerful “kinetic outburst” solos and franticly “erratic” chugging guitars, soaked in offensively “untamable” jazz stylings, Mythic Sunship do indeed draw some inspiration from Coltrane (latter half of “Maelstrom”) and a little from the likes of Hawkwind (“Olympia”) also, but their closest relationship is with fellow Danes Causa Sui. The longer Wildfire goes on, the more it seems Mythic Sunship try to pack in. Third and fourth tracks “Landfall” and “Redwood Grove” strive to outdo each other with how many dozen different things are happening across their combined 13 minutes, while closer “Going Up” offers a brief respite from the chaotic vortex conjured by Mythic Sunship until that point, before normal service is resumed and its guitar lines once more do battle both with each other and with syncopated percussion and bursts of brass.

In case it isn’t already clear, Mythic Sunship is not my bag at all. I have tried to give it a fair crack and, with that in mind, went back and explored their extensive back catalogue. I can actually get on board with 2016’s Ouroboros and quite enjoyed the likes of the darkly brooding epic “Leviathan” from that album. Two things set that interesting record apart from what I was confronted with on Wildfire, however, with Mythic Sunship’s latest offering coming off a distant second. First, Wildfire is simply too chaotic. It lacks any discernible through themes that would give it an identity as an album, rather than assorted selection of half-visualized ideas. Secondly, its production—handled by Danish punk Per Buhl Acs—is painfully harsh. Everything from the tin-edged percussion to the overly loud and jarringly crystalline guitars drilled into my brain in a very particular way that simply hurt a spot just behind my left eyeball.

I think there probably is a way to combine the discordant and assorted elements of Wildfire successfully but Mythic Sunship has not found it. Throughout, the band majors in an almost uniformly buoyant mood that both grates—on me at least—and also serves to make the whole thing sound like a uniform gyre. Mixing, as it did on Ouroboros, a darker ambient mood into the skirling mix would help to give Wildfire definition and texture, as would cutting the length. Mythic Sunship’s five members can all handle their instruments well, and previous records show they can write compelling albums. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Tee Pee Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 2nd, 2021

Show 1 footnote

  1. I feel like I am channeling my inner old man, using the word “noisy.” Steel, Huck—am I doing ‘old’ right?
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